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August 27, 2009

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Berlusconi's estranged wife tells of lie over teenage model

THE estranged wife of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi says in a book published yesterday that it was her husband's alleged lies that pushed her to file for divorce at the outset of the sex scandal involving the Italian conservative leader.

In the book, Veronica Lario recalls how in April she made the decision after her husband failed to mention he would attend the birthday party of an 18-year-old model in Naples, telling her only about official business in the southern city.

His attendance at Noemi Letizia's party was later reported in the media and sparked a series of allegations over Berlusconi's purported fondness for young women.

Berlusconi, 72, has denied having any improper relationship with Letizia or any other women.

"Tendenza Veronica," ("Veronica's Trend"), is a revised edition of a book first published in 2004 by journalist Maria Latella. In the new edition, she quotes Lario as saying that the Naples incident was only the latest problem in their relationship.

"It was the latest lie. Better then to try to seek a last way to respect myself, better to divorce," the 53-year-old Lario said. "He put me in this situation."

Lario, a former actress with whom Berlusconi has three children, said her husband's actions were embarrassing him at a global level.

"I cannot be his baby sitter and I cannot stop him any more from making himself ridiculous in front of the world," she said. "I'm done."

Lario's lawyer was not available for comment.

Latella told AP Television News that the Naples party was "the turning point" for Lario.

"I asked her what about Noemi: 'Maybe she is your husband's daughter'," Latella recalled. "Veronica's answer was: 'If she really were Silvio's daughter, I would open the door of my home, but I know she is not'."

Two years ago, she received a quick and public apology from Berlusconi when she wrote an open letter to La Repubblica - a left-leaning newspaper fiercely critical of Berlusconi - complaining about her husband telling TV starlet Mara Carfagna: "If I weren't married, I would marry you immediately."

Carfagna is now Berlusconi's minister for equal opportunity.

"I often wondered in these two years how long it would take for Silvio to forget his promise not to embarrass me and his family any more," Lario is quoted as saying in the book.


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